Restructuring Employment Relationships in a Period of Crisis: The Lessons From PSA Peugeot-Citroën, 2010-2014

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2016)


convergence, employment relationships, PSA


Among the car makers that faced severe financial troubles in recent years, PSA Peugeot-Citroën appears symptomatic of the needs for car makers to explore new frontiers (organizational, technological, geographical, etc.). While at the beginning of the 2000s, the direction was more than optimistic, planning a production of more than 4 Mio vehicles in the mid-2000s, the firm experimented on the contrary very hard times in the following years. Since 2005, production is declining, and the 2008 financial crisis did only accentuate the tendency that guided PSA towards restructuring since 2010. In 2012, when the firm made official its plan to close a plant in Europe, the analysis produced by the direction of the causes of the financial problems was crystal-clear: the growing competition and diversification in Western Europe on its core segments (A, B, and C segments), coupled with the lack of internationalization and the overdependence on Europe were the roots of all evil. In other words, the firm was not prepared to tackle the challenges of product diversification (especially SUV and crossovers) and of development in emerging markets.

This presentation, focusing on the trajectory of PSA since 15 years, aims at discussing both the growth model and the consecutive restructuring of the employment relationships entailed by such an analysis. How do financial downturn and consecutive productive internationalization impact employment relationships? Based on the observation between 2012 and 2014 of the restructuring plans of PSA, I will especially shed the light on the fact that if convergence of work organization at a regional, and even international level, is feasible, employment relationships are still grounded into national contexts. In turn, this situation creates the roots of some tenuous tensions between harmonized productive practices and context-bounded employment relationships. Moreover, the PSA case also constitutes a good mirror of the new growing principles of factory and HR management, and especially the outsourcing of expertise over work.

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